Land Snails: How To Care For Your Newly Found Pet

Teach kids how to care for the simple needs of a land snail. Locally found snails don’t cost anything to keep and don’t require a big commitment. They can be kept until the novelty wears off and then released back into the wild. Keeping a pet snail (however temporary) will give kids an opportunity to learn about it. Watch closely when they eat. You can’t see its mouth but you can see how the food is munched bit by bit. They use a radula to file bits of food into its mouth. A radula is like a tongue with teeth. Cool, I know. The land snail pictured here is interesting to watch. It has eyes at the tip of its antennas (the top pair) and the bottom pair is used for feeling and smelling. Best of all you can watch your snail slime its way around using only one muscular foot.

I live on the East coast of the United States so this is a common land snail around here.

If your snail starts to dry out, it will close itself inside its shell and wait for conditions to improve before venturing out again. This state of inactivity is called estivation. They can seal the opening with a sheet of a clear substance that looks like dried egg whites.

If you plan to keep your snail for more than a week or so, you will need to add a source of calcium to the snail’s enclosure. For this you can add a piece of plain chalk or a piece of cuttlebone.

This is Snailie the land snail. You might just find your next pet in your flower garden.


A glass container works well. I found this vintage jar in the woods at an old unofficial trash dump. All that remained of the dump was glass and large metal items. I thought this jar was cool so I took it home. Do they still make jars like this?

A piece of cheese cloth or breathable fabric. You don’t want your pet snail getting lost in your house.

An elastic band. Save and reuse elastic bands that come off vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.

Daily care:

Wash jar. Don’t forget to take the snail out of the jar first!

Replace damp paper towel.

Add food: a leaf of lettuce (not iceberg), a piece of your apple core, spinach, carrot, or a raw potato slice. You are sure to find some yummy vegetable scraps left-over from dinner preparation. The food scraps shouldn’t be rotten however. Take out any food that gets moldy.

Keep your snail out of direct sunlight. You don’t want it to get too hot or dry.

As a child I had a vivarium set up with plants and a pet snail or two. If you choose to set up a vivarium (terrarium), make sure you choose plants that like a moist environment. Also add potting soil, plants, a log and some dried leaves to mimic it’s natural environment. Keep the soil damp.

Note: avoid chlorinated water, avoid washing your container with soap (or at least make sure you rinse really well).

25 thoughts on “Land Snails: How To Care For Your Newly Found Pet

  1. Rhyah

    This is so awesome! I had a pet snail named Simon once. I have such fond memories of him and really hope to find another one some day. He’s the only one that size that I’ve ever seen around here though (I’m in a Chicago suburb) so I’m not sure I’ll find one again anytime soon. I can settle for a water snail though. They’re pretty cool too!

  2. anna

    me gustan mucho los caracoles desde pequeña i como bibo en un pueblo encuentro muchos me gusta mucho criarlo i acer careras i eso.


  3. anna

    me encantan los caracoles desde mui pequeña e tenido pero e intentado domesticar mas de 10 y no a funcionado .tube un caracol llamado cargolino el mas rapido y listo ese lo pude domesticar .pero meses despues lo deje libre ,porque un animal tan sorprendente y listo no deve de estar capturado.

  4. jane Post author

    A snail can utilize the calcium in the piece of plain chalk or cuttlebone. A snail will use the calcium to make more shell. Its shell grows layer by layer; always adding a new layer around the opening. The opening gets bigger over time and allows room for the snail to grow. If you are only keeping it for a short time, you will not need to worry about this.

  5. Charlotte

    I know of a place where I can collect a few snails. All my young family members and frineds will be receiving a pair of snails along with the instructions on how to care for them. I find them very interesting and we seem to be calling them all GARY!!!

  6. faith

    Wow! This is great.although I to can not really grasp why snails need and what do they use it for. And how in the world do they get stuff from it?do they eat it?

  7. nathanael

    Snails are very cool.I have three snails
    in a tissue box outside.One of my snails
    layed seven eggs.I do not know how long
    they will live but I do know they are not
    going to die too soon.

  8. Trinity

    This website really helped me I”ve kept snails before but havent for awile today i
    got 6 snails currently and this website had
    some good info

  9. Lara

    I just got two snails! im naming them Cosmo and Wanda! :D it’s great, because if u get tired of them, you can always release them :)

  10. Kassiddie

    I have a handsome young snail named ‘Snailord Speed Jenkins’. I just found him and plan on taking care of him for years but I have a few questions.
    -Would regular store-bought box chalk work?
    -Would it be healthy for him to eat bush leaves, grass and land algae in lieu of table scraps?
    -And would a mist of water (for a water spray bottle) every 24 hours or so make up for the damp paper towel?

  11. jane Post author

    About the chalk, check with your local petstore.
    Snails will not eat just any-old leaves off bushes but you can experiment.
    I would think misting would be ok. Just don’t let its environment get moldy.

  12. Zach

    Me and my fiance have a pet snail named Milo. We’ve had it for a few months and haven’t given it any calcium(we haven’t known it was needed) but it’s perfectly fine.

  13. bella

    i have a snail called larry and i found out that he likes fish flakes and strawberries. thanks for the info on snails. :) my snail says thankyou

  14. Michy

    I have had a pet snail for over a year…name is Snaily..we now have 14 all together..I use washed egg shells for his calcium diet and also bought calcium powder at the pet store and use that as well…I always feed them fresh vegetables their favorite seems to be cucumber and aparagus…yesterday i moved a rock in their tank and found a mound of eggs….I put them in a plastic tub with coconut fiber substrate moistened to keep them I have to clean the snails and slugs cage…yes i even have slugs as pets and their eggs already hatched so i have about 23 slugs 4 adult rest are all babies..I also use gauze pads as their water source as it doesnt dry as fast as a paper towel seems to have continually work

  15. mia

    I have 10 pet snails. Is it ok if I keep em in a cardboard box with a piece of cloth on top?

  16. jane Post author

    The majority of land snails (according to Wikipedia) have both male and female parts. Therefore, you might say they are both. You will need two snails, however, for them to lay eggs. Snails will lay their eggs in damp soil.

  17. EvieRose

    I got 2 snails named sammy and sandy.. and I keep them at my job because I get lot of young kids in by be and they love to look at them while the parents are shopping ..even the adults like looking at them..

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